April 24, 2023 • Life for Leaders
Scripture — Ephesians 1:20-21 (NRSV)
God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come.
Jesus reveals himself as our friend. Yet today’s passage from Ephesians reminds us that our relationship with Jesus must reflect all who he is. If we relate to him only as a friend, we can easily neglect our duty to submit our lives to him. If we relate to Jesus only as a supreme authority, we easily lose the invitation to know him intimately and to delight in his friendship. Our Scripture passage today encourages us to know Jesus more fully and to offer our lives to him more completely.
This devotion is part of the series: Why Easter Matters.
One of the best things to happen among Christians in the last few decades is our getting to know Jesus as a friend. Those of us who grew up in strict churches with a distant, judgmental, and demanding Jesus have discovered the joy of knowing that Jesus has chosen us to be his friends (John 15:13-15). If Jesus is our friend, then we can enjoy his company and speak with him openly even as he does the same with us. If Jesus is our friend, we don’t have to be afraid of him or run from his presence. We can draw near to him with confidence, even boldness (Hebrews 4:16). To be sure, it’s a wonderful thing to know Jesus as our friend.
Yet sometimes we have become so enamored with relating to Jesus as our friend that we have forgotten who this friend really is. Ephesians 1:19-23 serves as a corrective to our tendency to reduce Jesus to merely a nice guy, someone to hang around with. This passage reminds us of the glorious sovereignty of Jesus Christ. We see this royal authority when God the Father “raised [Christ] from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come” (Ephesians 1:20-21).
So, Jesus who is our friend is also the One who is seated with God the Father in Heaven, exalted above all other powers in the universe. To borrow language from the book of Revelation, Jesus is “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Revelation 17:14). The one with whom we speak freely, sharing our deepest secrets, is also the one who rules over all creation. Thus, he is worthy of our utter submission and humble worship.
None of this negates the wonderful truth of our friendship with Jesus. In fact, it makes that friendship even more wonderful. But our passage from Ephesians reminds us that our relationship with Jesus must reflect all who he is. If we relate to him only as a friend, we can easily neglect our duty to submit our lives to him. If we relate to Jesus only as a supreme authority, we easily lose the invitation to know him intimately and to delight in his friendship. Our Scripture passage today encourages us to know Jesus more fully and to offer our lives to him more completely.
In what ways does your relationship with Jesus reflect the fact that he is your friend?
In what ways does your relationship with Jesus reflect the fact that he is King of kings?
What helps you to keep these realities in balance?
At some point during your work today, pause for a couple of minutes to read and reflect on the picture of Christ in Ephesians 1:19-23. How does this image of Christ affect the way you think and feel about your work?
Lord Jesus Christ, what a privilege it is to know you personally. Thank you for revealing yourself to me, for saving me, for knowing me, and even for calling me your friend.
Forgive me, Lord, when my relationship with you becomes unbalanced, when I emphasize aspects of who you are and neglect others. Today, I am reminded of your glorious sovereignty, your authority over all things, your royal power. I am encouraged to offer my life to you once again, to be your servant, to bow before you in humble worship. May everything I do this day be worship to you.
All praise and glory be to you, O Christ, because you are enthroned far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. I honor you today as King of kings and Lord of lords. Even as I do so with my lips and thoughts, may I do so with my life and actions. Amen.
Banner image by Yassine Rahaoui on Unsplash.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project’s online commentary. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: I Have Called You Friends (John 1:35-51, John 15:15).
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Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.